Tag Archives: Monkey Island 2

^_^ will shout at you until you are a smiling fool

I can understand that this blog post’s title might be a little confusing to read, but that’s how it is. Like Prince’s unpronounceable Love Symbol #2, ^_^ is a name that’s easier to type than say outloud. In my mind, I refer to it as Smiley Face or The Wererabbit, but your mileage may vary. However you want to say it can be argued this way and that, but one thing is clear: y’all need to play this.

I discovered ^_^–and subsequently further work by Ben Chandler–from the Gnome’s Lair blog, which focuses its coverage heavily on point-and-click adventure games, a genre that I’ve been enjoying more and more thanks to my recent times with Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge and Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars. Initially, I was attracted to ^_^ by a single screenshot, which, almost immediately, made me want to click on everything, from the cart to the crow to the coatrack. Turns out that single screenshot makes up the entire space of the game, so it’s a relief that it is simply gorgeous. The lighting on the grass from the lamp is worth noting.

So, Julian is a wererabbit–the first of his kind, too–but wasn’t always that way. He’s trying to get a witch to help change him back, but first, he must retrieve her hair, which keeps running away from her. Also, there’s a verbally-challenged vampire and enough jazzy records to keep one from selling their ol’ gramophone for one of them newfangled cee-dee players. Yeah, it’s kind of weird and random, but cohesively sound, with a clear goal to achieve. Puzzles involve a lot of clicking and dialogue options and using the right item from your inventory at the right time and place. Standard adventure game stuff, but it’s all very charming here. My favorite running gag within ^_^ is all the shouting, which also nicely plays a pivotal part in getting that magical hair back to its master. The small addition of a screen shake each time is quite effective.

I played for about an hour last night, getting stuck a couple of times. ^_^ is no walk in the park, or a walk outside a witch’s house at that. Trial and error will get you there, as well as paying attention to how the game operates early on. Generally, if Julian uses a certain trick to advance the plot, he’ll do it at least once more before credits roll. Oh, and speaking of credits, Chandler handles them as nothing more than in-game dialogue, which I found pretty amusing and appropriate. After that, the game ends. It literally shuts itself down, leaving you left to stare at whatever image is gracing your desktop, heartstrings tugging for just one more thing to click on.

^_^ is a charming short story, with many moments worth remembering. The graphics and animations are surreal and surpass many quote-unquote professional games of the same ilk, and the funny moments are genuinely funny. Play it for the vampire tongue-twisters and all the shouting and the revelation from where the game gets name. Play it because it’s freeware, but made with skill and style. Play it.

Witness that I am intrigued over Jonathan Blow’s The Witness

Great, truly unique puzzles are hard to come by these days. We’ve seemingly done everything across a myriad of videogames spanning the past, present, and future: move blocks, match colored gems, flip switches, use portals to our advantage, bend time,  and so on. I thought the cloning and time-heavy puzzles in The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom were fantastic, excruciatingly tricky and humbling. Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge had a few brain-twisters, too. But other than that, it’s all been pretty ho-hum, and yes, I’ve not yet played Braid, but do plan to soon.

And so with that said, I’m pretty excited about The Witness, Jonathan Blow’s next game after Braid, and I’ve barely seen much of it in action, just read several lengthy, praising articles over the last couple of days about the stuck-on-an-island puzzler. Which is all about discovery, and listening, and looking–and seeing. Seeing is solving.

The Witness has a Myst feel to it, playing from a first-person perspective and exploring a lush, but isolated and empty island. Why is it people-less? Who are you, anyways? What’s with all the tech? Questions, quizzical uncertainties, a pristine and thriving locale void of human life…only one way to figure it all out, and that’s to go exploring, picking up recordings for deeper insight. There are blue computer screens littered across the island, and they all seem to be connected to a door; to open the door, a player must draw a line from point A to point B, and that sounds simple, but it seems like the kind of thing that can grow dangerously difficult over time. Some of the answers for the line are actually found by looking around at the island; that group of trees, perhaps, with their weird-looking branches; that bird chirping overhead, chirping high then low then high again; these are not just bits of nature, they are answers. Seeing is solving.

It sounds fantastic. However, if I’m truly going to love The Witness, I’m going to have to stop reading about it, as I don’t want to know all the puzzle solutions long and before it even comes out. The lesser known, the better.

And here’s some lo-fi video footage of the game in motion:

Onwards to another quest for magical treasure

Over the weekend, at my niece’s and nephew’s first birthday party, I was chatting with my friend Kevin, one half of Math the Band, and he tipped me off to a game he absolutely loved, and I was surprised to learn it was for the…Nintendo Wii. Usually, that sort of thing doesn’t happen. The game turned out to be called Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros’ Treasure, and it’s a point-and-click adventure driven by the desire for super booty. Hmm…that sounds a little familiar. And yeah, I know, both touch upon monkeys as well.

So, the very next day, I was out and about at the mall, trying to ignore what day it actually was, and I found Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros’ Treasure for $9.00. I decided to play pirate and be daring and give it a whirl, even though buying Wii games still feels a little shameful these days. Anyways, once home, I checked over at The First Hour to see if this was something I could do some early minutes coverage of, but it seemed like Greg Noe already took care of the game: first hour review and full hour review. I was a little bummed to see he had not fallen in love with the title as much as Kevin seemed, but I popped it into the Wii anyways and played for about 30 minutes.

It’s not bad. The music is nice, but the sound effects that Zack and Wiki make after every single sentence is maddening, and I’m going to have to either play with the game on lower volume or straight up mute that option. I died twice, which is always a rare yet refreshing thing in point-and-click games. I love all the colors and cartoony item design and zany characters, as well as the amount of shiz there is to collect. Not sure how much I’m gonna enjoy waggling the Wiimote for each level, but 30 minutes didn’t drain me. Right. I’m pretty cautious, as it seems this game is the case of “love it” or “hate it” and maybe I don’t ever want to get to that place where I have to stand my ground. We’ll see how it goes, or if I ever even remember to play it again. That happens a lot with Wii games for me…

In a span of three days, I purchased two pirate-themed games. That’s pretty amazing. Don’t bother arrrrguing the point either or ye be walking the plank before the sun sets.

Games Completed in 2011, #13 – Monkey Island 2 Special Edition: LeChuck’s Revenge

So I beat this game. Big Whoop, right?

Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge is a game I wish I had played sooner. Like, maybe when I was in high school or back when I dreamed of being a plucky wannabe pirate. Alas, I only discovered it after a Special Edition was created, released for the Xbox 360 Arcade, and then put on sale a few weeks ago. Don’t worry; I’ve already said three Hail Marys and two Our Fathers, and even then I know that’s not enough repenting yet.

In this sequel to The Secret of Monkey Island–which I’ve also not played yet, grrr–Guybrush Threepwood is searching for the legendary treasure known as Big Whoop. Unfortunately, during this hunt he unknowingly resurrects his arch-nemesis LeChuck, who he defeated in the previous adventure, as a zombie. There’s also some mini-plot thing about a love interest named Elaine Marley, but that never seemed like a vital focal point of the game. This Big Whoop search will span several islands, taking Guybrush back and forth as he collect items, solves puzzles, and interacts with a host of memorable, charming characters.

This Special Edition is more than just a re-skinned game. Besides the updated artwork, which is simply gorgeous, there’s re-worked controls to help players not familiar with the SCUMM engine get along much easier. Right-clicking on an item or person brings up a wheel of options, such as LOOK AT Wally, TALK TO Wally, or even the dreaded PULL Wally. That might seem like a weird option, but I suggest selecting it, as now, thanks to the addition of voice acting, every selection elicits a smarmy response from Mr. Threepwood. And the voice acting is stellar, with every character having a strong personality that is instantly captured upon speaking. My personal favorites include Wally B. Feed, Largo LaGrande, and the constantly quieting librarian. You can even listen to this awesome voicework with the original, retro graphics and gameplay. Another addition that long-time fans are probably super excited about is that Monkey Island creators Ron Gilbert, Tim Schafer and Dave Grossman recorded commentary to go with the game as you played; I did not give this a listen yet.

The puzzles range from obviously easy to eye-stabbingly frustrating, and for those that need an extra nudge in the right direction, two new features can be used: a hint button and item highlighting. I didn’t use either to unlock Achievements come the endgame (I know, I’m a whore), but they are there if need be. For the tougher puzzles, mainly all of Part II, I had to use the Internet every now and then. Some of them hurt my head, and some of them proved almost impossible, like when you had to give LeChuck a hanky a split-second before he zapped you with some voodoo magic. That one took me at least fifteen tries to get the timing right.

Monkey Island 2 Special Edition: LeChuck’s Revenge is both a fun and funny game. Entering a new screen and clicking on everything is thrilling, and I mean that as seriously as possible. I just wanted to know what Guybrush thought about everything, whether it was a stool, a parrot, or even monkey playing a piano. Exploration and an eye for detail is what’s important here, and while the story felt a little rushed during the final showdown, it was wonderful to experience. I have the need now for more point-and-click action, and it looks like I’ve missed out on quite a collection of SCUMM-based games. However, I’ve been warned to steer clear of Escape from Monkey Island. No promises, but I will certainly try.

Fun and funny times with Guybrush Threepwood

Why did nobody tell me that Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge was one of the funniest pieces of videogame medium ever to be crafted? Well? What’s your big excuse?! Don’t tell me it’s because you lost your monocle either.

In truth, I guess I always knew it was a bit funny, seeing as it always came up in gaming forums and such as a good time. Yet I never got to play it, or any other entries in the series, and dang it, I’m now totally kicking myself. The writing is top-notch, with some of the best dialogue choices ever to be selected. Seriously, Tara and I spent minutes trying to decide if we wanted to Guybrush to say “I’ll BE back!” or “I’ll be BACK!” These things matter, people. And while the voice acting is new for the special Xbox Live remake and done with great personality, the writing remains the same text that was typed up way back in, uh, December 1991. It takes coconuts to do some of the things LucasArts did here, but without ’em, Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge would be a less special game; the fact that you can basically make Guybrush beg and plead for a shopkeeper’s item despite never getting it is beyond the call of duty, but oh so wonderful.

The game’s funny, but somewhere in the middle of Act II, the one where you have to find four map pieces for Big Whoop, I had to trade in laughing a few times for Googling walkthroughs. Some of these puzzles are just plain obtuse, and I have to imagine it was a real struggle eons ago when your best solution was to just click everything and then click everything on everything. More in-game clues would’ve been appreciated, and I’m not talking about the brand new hint addition, which I’m not using in order to unlock an Achievement come the credits. Speaking of those delicious pingers, here’s a couple Achievements I’ve unlocked too that I find to be pretty great:


Old School (5G): Switched to classic mode at least once


Five Minutes Later… (10G): Allowed Guybrush to die.


Call 9-1-1 (10G): Called the LucasArts helpdesk when walking through the jungle on Dinky Island.

All right, so we’re on the home stretch now actually. The final island, which is a mess of jungle paths. Just finally ended my little talk with Herman. Now I gotta take down LeChuck…again?

Xtreme shopping sales on Xbox Live today

There’s some crazy deals happening on Xbox Live today for tons of games. Seriously, there’s a lot of content marked down, way too much for little ol’ me to type up, but Major Nelson has a good summary of it all.

Having only 400 Microsoft Space Bucks left over from when I recently purchased Torchlight (well, 410 if you wanna be specific), I figured I’d grab one game for a good price and be done with it. Then I started to peruse all the deals, and well…I caved. There’s also one-day only sales happening today, the day of fools, and I just couldn’t pass one up at the discounted price. I purchased another 1600 Microsoft Space Bucks and have now downloaded five arcade games in the past 12 hours. Check ’em out:

A Kingdom for Keflings – Marked down by 50% to 400 Microsoft Space Bucks. I don’t really know what this game is…an RTS with your Avatars? Interested to find out even if I’m probably late to the multiplayer aspects and all that.

3D Ultra Minigolf 2 – Marked down by 50% to 400 Microsoft Space Bucks. Golfing season approaches, but one probably couldn’t tell considering it is SNOWING outside right now. Maybe this will help pass the time.

Costume Quest – Marked down to 600 Microsoft Space Bucks. I’ve heard many great things about this bite-size RPG. It looks freakin’ adorable to say the least. Might feel a little weird to play a Halloween game in April, but that’s not enough to stop me from charging forward.

X-MEN – Marked down by some insane percentage to a mere 200 Microsoft Space Bucks. WELCOME TO DIE!

Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge (Special Edition) – Marked down by 50% to 400 Microsoft Space Bucks. I missed out on an entire generation of point-and-click adventures, and this one seems like a fun time. I like that it can be switched between new art and the original screens. Hope it’s not too confusing since I never played the previous title. Oh well. I’m sure the Internet could help me there.

I normally don’t splurge like this, but honestly, these were some great deals. I’m most excited about Costume Quest and seeing what I’ve missed out on in Monkey Island 2.

If you too are interested some of these titles, you’d better act fast. This foolish day is almost done.